We made a pilgrimage last weekend to Altoona, PA to introduce Will to his 94-year-old Great Grandpa.
He looks great, he is great. If I’m like him, walking around unassisted and still religiously following current events when I’m 94; or like Will’s other great grandfather, still chopping firewood and mowing the back 40 at 93-years-old, then I’ll count myself lucky. Will has some amazing great-grandfathers and some lovely great-aunties as well.
On our drive home, on winding, misty roads around and through the Allegheny mountains, Chris and I looked out onto the valleys below and wondered what it must have been like for the first settlers to climb over the hilltops and stare into an untouched landscape, deciding where to call “home.”
I sometimes think it’s hard to move overseas and yet, it’s actually pretty cushy process, even compared to 20 years ago. We have Skype, Amazon, and the ability to return home, usually in less than 36 hours. We have, if not good, then emergency access to good medical care.
I can’t imagine what it would be like say good-bye to friends and family, pack up a wagon and simply head West, with no idea of exactly where to go and what might happen. With no medical care or maps or even a postal system to ever let people back home know you’re alright, and where they might be able to find you.
And then, what do you do if your family constitutes the only population within 15 or 50 square miles? How do you not go a little stir-crazy with no one else to talk to besides the people you’re related to by blood?
I think I’ve just outed myself here as something of a city mouse. Thank goodness we’re not traveling to India in a covered wagon.
A few more pictures from the weekend:
North Side Social is the new-ish old Murky Coffee. I think technically they opened before we left for Chengdu, but this was our first time back to the old, lofty, post-industrial space. It looks exactly like it did before–Counter Culture coffee for sale, concrete floors, lots of laptops, lots of kids, a relaxed mix of hipsters and yuppies and-what would you call a hipster-yuppie? A hippie? Wait, no, that’s not right. Well, in any case, the coffee is still wonderful, the breakfast sandwiches are to die for and the lattes still come with beautiful hearts and pine trees swirling in the cafe-colored foam.
The scones also happen to be completely un-scone-like in that they are delicious, towering, delicate craggy mounds combining apricots, pistachios, sparkling sugar and butter-loads and loads of butter. I don’t usually praise a pastry-case scone, but these ones were fantastic.
Friday night we stopped at the Crystal City Kebab place for dinner. I’ve just realized that is not actually the name of the restaurant but you probably know which one I’m talking about–the one that isn’t Ravi Kebab.
To our left was a couple from somewhere around Calcutta, speaking in a mix of Hindi and Bengali. Before we left, a group of families in burkas and head scarves sat down behind us, oohing and ahhing over adorable new babies. A gaggle of college-age girls from somewhere in West Africa were sharing a plate of kebabs by the window. A women in platform heels and a skimpy tank top was in line ordering dinner before her shift at the strip club next door.
If there is one thing I always miss about D.C. it’s living in a place that is home to so many different people from so many different places. The world feels a lot more manageable, a lot smaller and warm-fuzzy feeling when you’ve got a minimum of 4 languages and 6 countries represented in just one tiny 40 foot X 40 foot kebab shop.
A few more photos from the weekend:
How was your weekend? What did you do?